The little flock of five flamingoes is crossing Florida Road for a final time. Their faces reflect the feral feelings of forlorn failure from the females they recently fumbled. With fanciful fearlessness, they face the foreboding flight of pavement. Their festivities have taken them far. I am terrible at pure alliteration.
For those of you unfamiliar with the layout of Florida Road, it exists on a slope. Though the hill that it calls home is not particularly steep, it has the potential to wind if you are not careful. A lot of the Musgrave area is built like this, with homes either being up or down a road but very rarely on it. The result (in the context of Florida Road) is that the collective noun for party-goers moving downhill is a “Sprint” and those returning to their point of origin being called a “Wheeze”.
We were an Asthma Attack.
Eventually we reached the foothills of Absolut. The old house had been re-purposed into a nightclub by some enterprising soul. As a result, one has to traverse a rocky collection of steps before reaching the girl with the till-box at the top. You have to answer one of her riddles or pay R20.00 to enter. A lot of people just pay her the money. We found her riddle to be very difficult. See if you can answer this unreasonably complicated conundrum:
“Where have you come from? What is he looking at? Where is your slop? Is he sleeping? What is your friend asking those women over there? What? What about penises?”
We do not have to discuss the first port-of-call when you enter a nightclub. It is universally acknowledged to be a trip to the bar. Invariably someone splinters off to the toilet as well. This is precisely what happened.
Then there was a difficult matter which had to be dealt with.
“Guys” started the one head, “I want to go dance. Anyone joining me?”
There was a groan of consensus. After all, the reason for us walking up here was to squeak takkie. Given that we were all wearing slops, we were likely about to fail.
A note on dancing:
Dancing, is without a doubt, the single greatest expression of human physicality and emotion. Through the primal gyration of the body, we express our psyche to the world. It reflects our understanding of ourselves in a finite space. An ape expressing their power and insecurities all at once. To dance is to explore ourselves; to explore ourselves is to be free. This is its power. This is its incredible place in our world.
Even in the dark confines of a nightclub dancefloor, people still somehow make it work. The simplest of dance moves, the repetition of motion, can still effortlessly bare the soul. The DJ is a pastor in the church of rhythm, guiding his flock to enlightenment through their own movements. That singular combination of music and movement speaks volumes for our nature as transient artists.
As beautiful young-things moved against each other, a small space had begun to clear next to one of the larger speakers. The wave of human expression, melting into both music and muscle, had an interloper.
Five heads. They were not dancing.
That cannot possibly be what you call it.
Head Number One had found its rhythm simply by shuffling from one foot to the next. His elbows were kept diligently at right angles. His arms did not move, except to draw the top of the beer bottle to his lips. His eyes closed every once in a while, as though he was trying to remember the steps.
Head Number Two was doing the electric slide. The music was a dirge-like deep house number. This did not stop Head Number Two. Oh no. He had managed to boogaloo so hard he had lost his other slop. Said slop was glued to the wall behind him.
Head Number Three swayed like tall grass in a light summer breeze.
Head Number Four was committed. He had established very quickly that he was the avatar for the God of Rhythm. In his mind his hips were burning a hole through the air. His feet were moving two steps ahead of the beat on the wings of light. As his hands twirled and gyrated, an animated Olivia Newton John descended from the heavens and kissed his glistening forehead. He was Fire. He was Ice. He was the Beat-Electric. He was actually slumped motionless between Heads Three and Five.
Head Number Five had assumed a similar strategy to Head Number One. However, it was on the look out for potentially interested women. Spotting a fairly homely looking lady back at the bar, head Five departed leaving Head Four to make contact with the ground. Moments later he rejoined the gyrating lantern-festival-dragon that was his friends.
“That was quick.”
“Yes, I bought her a drink.”
“Her boyfriend arrived.”
“Oh. He mad?”
“I bought him a drink as well.”
“I wanna go home.”
“Okay, maybe we should leave.”
It was a fairly painless procedure leaving Absolut. We managed to coordinate our efforts back down the stairs and into the road. Two Ubers were called for. Two of the heads departed. The remaining three of us were on our way to stay at a flat on the top of Florida Road belonging to the tallest Head. This had become something of a tradition for a big night out. Invariably the three of us would find ourselves in his living room eating takeaway pizza and watching internet videos. It always felt calming. You could throw your dignity away but return to the home of a friend with it intact.
We walked into his flat. It had been furnished by a woman who was a big fan of Murder She Wrote before her cats ate her.
“Dude, why does your flat stink?”
“Because I have a rat.”
“Oh yeah! When did you get it?”
“You bought it for me.”
“Well your place still stinks… you should get air fresheners or something. I know a guy…”
The lounging on the couch and the consumption of fatty foods would quickly follow. The three of us would merge into the cushions in various states of undress and just be together. We had put the idiocy behind us. It was what friends were for. You could lean on each other without feeling the weight. Eating pizza on those couches turned the world back on itself. You were not a helpless underling at work. You did not have to deal with family or chores. You were a bloke with his buddies. The simplicity of our friendship was not in its grand gestures. It was in its quiet moments. We were not reflecting on the problems of the world. We knew full well that we could not solve them. Those late nights in the Durban heat lasted a lifetime because that was what we had for each other. We had fulfilled the societal obligation of being young and full of life. Now we could just be young and tired. Too tired to go to bed. Too tired to speak.
Too tired to say goodbye properly before one left for New Zealand.
Too tired to call when one was having trouble with his girlfriend in Pretoria.
Too tired say sorry for that awful fight over the phone.
Too tired to keep in touch.